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29 Days of Honey – Elul 5781 – Honey Cardamom Bread with Silan (Date Syrup)

I’ve challenged myself to post 29 honey recipes in the next month – BEFORE Rosh Hashana.

Not just your Bubbe’s honey cake. As a beekeeper and avid cook I can take you and your honey places you’ve never been before- culinarily speaking.

So let’s get Buzzin’.

Bees are very attracted to palm pollen. Date palm ( Phoenix dactylifera) is one of the oldest fruit crops going back at least 5000 years grown originally in desert environments like the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, and the Middle East. Without dates, humans wouldn’t have survived the arid conditions of the desert which shows the trees resilience in harsh conditions.

Silan is date syrup, sometimes referred to as date honey. The reference to this part of the world as, “The Land of Milk & Honey,” was probably referring to date syrup, not the stuff honeybees produce. But, had there not been pollinators 5000 years ago… You get the idea.

Challah (חלה) is the Hebrew word for bread. Culturally, there are some technical aspects of making any challah that classify it as a challah vs. just a loaf of bread. The recipe here is not technically challah as it does not contain the requisite 1kg of flour. It can be scaled to meet that requirement.

To make this as challah (חלה) – technically – double everything. 

This bread is practically a pastry, being stuffed with nuts, silan (date syrup), and sesame seeds and formed into round loaves which are traditional for Rosh Hashana (Head of the Year, or New Year). The cardamom adds that aromatic edge that leaves you reaching for more. ‘Wanna try it?

Again, don’t forget to thank the bees. They play a big part in most of the ingredients.

Honey Cardamom Bread with Silan (Date Syrup)

You will need: 

  • Stand mixer with dough hook or a serious bread bowl
  • Oven
  • Baking pan or sheet w/baking paper
  • Kitchen scale
  • Rolling Pin
  • Dough scraper

Ingredients – using grams here because I weigh everything bread   

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of yeast
  • 250g Warm honey water
  • 120g Olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 30g Honey
  • 700g Unbleached flour
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 Tablespoon salt
  • 20g Flax meal
  • 2 eggs + 1 more for brushing over loaves before baking
  • 30g Honey

 

For the fillings – That will be in Phase X

  • 30g Raw tehina
  • 30g silan (date surup)
  • 10g sesame seeds
  • 30g Chopped spiced nuts*

Phase 1 – yeast slurry 

  1. Combine yeast and 150g of flour together in the bowl, then mix in the warm honey water until smooth.
  2. Park for 10-20 minutes until it begins to puff slightly

 

 

Phase 2 – knead 

  1. Mix the oil, salt, cardamom, and honey into the yeast slurry until dissolved
  2. Stir in the remaining flour and eventually knead for about 5 minutes
    • the dough should be soft, but not goopy

Phase 3 – rest

  1. Allow to rest, covered until triple in bulk

Phase 4 –  shaping 

  1. Punch down your risen dough and divide into desired loaf sizes – you will be dividing each of these into 3. 
    –   Oil your work surface
  2. Divide one of the loaf portions into 3, and roll each one out into a slab
  3. Mix the tehina and silan together in a small bowl – additional bowls for the nuts and sesame seeds are helpful

4. Slather each slab with the designated filling and roll into a tight, lengthwise log

5. Braid those 3 pieces together

6. Form into rounds, tucking one end underneath 

7. Completely optional step here – using some reserved honey water, brush your loaves and sprinkle with seeds

8. Place gently on your papered baking pan and cover

9.  Cover and  allow to rise once more for 30-60 minutes

10. Preheat your oven to 180c

11. Beat your reserved egg with a little water and brush liberally and carefully on the risen loaves.

12. If by some bit of fortune you have more sesame seeds and chopped nuts remaining, sprinkle them liberally over the loaves

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden and the centre looks set.

The loaves are done when they sound hollow when tapped. Allow to cool on wire racks. The air circulation is important.

*I’d love to take credit for the spiced nuts, but a) they don’t use honey, b) they are totally from ATK. Much thanks to Elle Simone for the nut renaissance in my life. Variations on these nuts are a staple in our house. The spice blend referred to is circled in the image below.

 

 

 

 

 

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